Antrim win All Ireland U 16 Champioship !
Report by Seamas McAleenan . Photos by Mark Doherty
All-Ireland final match report from Ballycran
All-Ireland Under 16B Championship Final
Antrim 3-9 Derry 2-6
AFTER losing to Derry in the Ulster semi-final and then in the first round of the All-Ireland championship, Antrim showed a fierce hunger in this final in Ballycran to upset the form-book and bring the title to the Glens for the first time since 2004.
That hunger and aggression unsettled Derry from the start and only midfielder Anna Cassidy was able to exercise any influence on the game with Bronagh McCullagh’s move out after the break helping the Oak Leaf get some sort of grip on the game.
However by that stage the young Saffrons were in control and in no mood to let go. Player of the Match Eimhear McMullan was immense at the centre of defence with Bronagh and Katie Laverty strong at midfield well supported by the foraging half-back and half-forward lines while Rianna McBride and Áine Magill caused the Derry defence all kinds of problems.
Antrim’s intent was obvious from the throw-in with Niamh McKay picking up the break and placing McBride for the opening point. However their break-through score came in the 12th minute and was a similar type opening created this time by Annie Lynn with McBride round-ing her player and finding the net.
Six minutes later, Lynn picked up a loose ball in midfield and soloed up the stand side. Her shot from 35 metres looked to be going wide, but slipped in at the near post and Antrim pushed on to lead by 2-6 to 0-3 at the break.
Caitriona Toner’s early point lifted Derry and they held their own well for the third quarter, although Antrim’s tactic of swarming the sliotar and hunting in packs kept the focus in the middle third.
That changed in the 46th minute when Mary McKillen’s clearance along the stand side was broken by sub Aimee Traynor into the path of Shauna McDonnell who soloed 40 metres and hit the roof of the Derry net.
Anna Cassidy immediately hit back with a free, which was cancelled by a neat point from Traynor – but the last ten minutes plus three extra of injury-time was played in the Antrim half of the pitch.
Goals from Aoife Doyle in the 55th minute and a Roisin Gallagher free a minute later closed the game down, but Antrim were still in control and held out to spark off plenty of celebra-tions at the final whistle.
Antrim : B Ellis, A McNeill, B Delargy, N Martin, B McAuley capt., E McMullan, M McKil-len, B Laverty, K Laverty, S McDonnell (1-1), A Magill (0-2), N McKay, C Heggarty, R McBride (1-5, 0-4 frees), A Lynn (1-0).
Subs : A Traynor (0-1) for C Heggarty (42), R Bonnes for N McKay (46), N Donnelly for A Lynn (56).
Derry, A Ní Lochlainn, C McCoy, S Scullion, C Ní Mhianáin, R Downey, L Scullion, T McErlain, A Cassidy (0-2 frees), L McBride, C Toner (0-1), R Gallagher capt (1-1, 1-0 free), R Loughlin, A Doyle (1-0), B McCullough (0-2), M Mullan.
Subs : C White for L McBride (40), S Kelly for R Loughlin (45).
Referee : P Ryan (Kildare)